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Published: April 14th 2012
The Muslim population in Beijing is quite large. There are many mosques around the city, one on Wangfujing street and a whole areas around the Xuanwu district. As a Muslim I read about the Niujie mosque in history books. One of the oldest mosques in Asia, it was built in the year 996 by an Arabian scholar Nasurutan.
I was expecting to see s huge domed structure to indicate the mosque. I remember when the taxi dropped us to the mosque I thought were in the wrong place! I walked up to a gate where I saw a series of Chinese style houses. On the gate there was a sign welcoming us to Niujie Mosque. It was a real pleasant surprise. The grounds are quite and calming. A man came out to greet us in limited English with a beaming smile. He a gave us a map and brochure and allows us to walk through the grounds.
There are some small little benches around the grounds to sit, reflect and take it all in. To imagine the mosque has been here for more than 1,000 years is truly astounding. It really is standing in a part of history.
The mosque is actually a series of houses, almost like a small community with a compound. There is the tower for call to prayer, the pots where they made food during the month of Ramadan and also the prayer halls. The structures have been lovingly restored with vibrant colours of red, blue, green and yellow. I entered into the women’s prayer hall which was small but beautiful. A lovely glass chandelier, deep rich green carpet; hand painted sura on the wall in gold ink. There is a small gift shop as well where you can buy some pottery, books, etc. I ended up buying 4 small pots for incense with Arabic calligraphy on them.
As you head out of the mosque and head north, you are surrounded by an large and vibrant Muslim community. There was a huge shop that sold snacks through an open window. We were lucky enough to have a nice young lady help us to order. We bought some mini lamb pieces with sesame on them and some deep fried chick pea balls with red bean paste in side them. They were both good to try. From the main street Guang’an Men Nei Dajie head
west towards Xuanwu Men Xi Daije. There is another huge mosque on the corner, complete with domed roofs. You will pass the Caishi Kou station. If continue north on Xuanwu you will hit the WalMart. See my Walmart post for more info.
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